Identifying metal genres is like identifying an STD-free hooker: complex and time consuming. But not anymore! Thanks to Cracked's handy Metal Genre Identifier you can rest easy that you will never accidentally enjoy a song from a genre you dislike.
During metal's decades-long history roughly 8 billion subgenres of the music emerged, each with its own unique style, sound and obsessive fanbase. Veteran fans can turn to the opening Metal Genre Identifier to make sure they never deviate outside their preferred category of metal. But for everyone else, below you will find Cracked's quick guide to understanding how all of those genres work and why you've given up metal when you were 14.
ALTERNATIVE METAL (ALT. METAL) - Think System of a Down, when the band's message puts the lyrics and music in the backseat and violates them for a couple of hours.
BLACK METAL - Think Burzum, Immortal or Emperor, as well as hilarious costumes, shrieks, anti-Christianity and Satan. For additional information, refer to this video.
CLASSIC HEAVY METAL - Think Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath; basically THE music people in polo shirts are referring to when they talk about "Heavy Metal."
DEATH METAL - Think Death or Morbid Angel. For its melodic equivalent, think Dark Tranquility or In Flames. Fans of Adult Swim should think Dethklok. Death Metal often deals with death, brutality and violence, though not as much Satan as Black Metal.
DOOM METAL - Think Pentagram or Saint Vitus. Slower and "heavier" than other genres. Basically "Funeral March" Metal.
FOLK METAL - Think Eluveitie, Finntroll or Korpiklaani: Metal with violins or other folk instruments.
GLAM METAL (HAIR METAL, POP METAL) - Think Motley Crue, Poison, early Pantera. Also think gigantic hair, tons of make-up and guys who stole most of their stage clothes from their moms.
GOTHIC METAL - Think Moonspell or Paradise Lost. It's... it's metal for goth kids. What more do you want?!
INDUSTRIAL METAL - Think Ministry or Nine Inch Nails. Metal for Generation Y (as in "whY were you ever born?")
METALCORE - Think All That Remains, As I Lay Dying or Killswitch Engage. All the melody of growl-y metal vocals with the guitar virtuosity of punk rock.
NEO-CLASSICAL METAL - Think Yngwie Malmsteen: when music school kids get their hands on electric guitars and an Iron Maiden CD.
NU METAL - Think Korn. Metal for people who don't like metal.
POWER METAL - Think Blind Guardian, Kamelot or Stratovarius. Power Metal often deals with fantastical, metaphysical themes and vocals so high only dogs can hear them. Bulk of the audience composed of Dungeons & Dragons fans.
PROGRESSIVE METAL (PROG METAL) - Think Andromeda, Opeth or Symphony X. Probably the most complex and ambitious metal genre, drawing inspiration from classical music and jazz fusion in terms of compositional structure, which unfortunately makes it the Hipster of metal.
SPEED METAL - Think Motorhead. Heavy Metal that is... like, really fast, man.
SYMPHONIC METAL - Think Haggard or Therion. Metal with lots of keyboards or other symphonic instruments.
THRASH METAL - Think Anthrax, Megadeth, Metallica or Slayer. The metal you were most likely to see on TV when people still cared about metal.
Viking Metal - Think Bathory. Viking Metal often deals with themes like the illusion of free will and the innate evil that all men have, rejecting the notion that human existence holds meanings, it tends to muse on the nature of infinity and immortality, as well asIT'S METAL ABOUT VIKING SHIT, GEEZ!